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For example, I found myself saying "I'm fine to wait" but realized it seems wrong. "I'm fine with waiting" strikes me as the correct alternative. In general "fine with" seems right and "fine to" seems wrong.

Am I correct here? Thanks for any explanations!

(Apologies, I've never studied grammar formally and am not sure where to look to answer my own question.)

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    I think "I'm fine waiting." works just as well, leaving out "with". Sep 22, 2023 at 1:04

1 Answer 1

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The syntax of "I'm fine to wait" is the same as that of "I'm happy to wait," which is obviously correct; in the terminology of Huddleston & Pullum (2002), happy is an adjective taking an infinitival complement. Fine isn't on H&P's list of adjectives that allow this construction (p. 1258). But they were writing in 2002, and as Ngram shows using fine in this way has suddenly become popular within the past couple of decades.

This may explain your confusion: this usage of fine makes perfect grammatical sense, but it only emerged relatively recently; presumably some speakers will find it more acceptable than others.

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  • But doesn't fine describe the situation rather than the speaker? As in That's fine by me. Or maybe I'm behind the times and the usage is changing. Sep 22, 2023 at 8:13
  • @KateBunting that's a different usage. The OP is asking specifically about the case where fine is followed by a verb in its infinitive form.
    – terdon
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:17
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    @terdon - Which I, as an older BrE speaker, find unidiomatic. Sep 22, 2023 at 8:18
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    As do I, it feels clumsy. I would always add something (e.g. I'm fine just waiting here or whatever). Alphabet is quite right though and can indeed find many examples in actual books.
    – terdon
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:23
  • @KateBunting You speak older British English? Sep 23, 2023 at 17:35

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